Storytelling scientist finds meaning in writing, passing truth to readers
By Grace Soong,The China Post
April 23, 2012, 12:04 am TWN
God gave me a mission of taking a snail out for a stroll.
I cannot walk too fast; the snail is crawling as fast as it could,
But only moving so little every step.
I urge it, I threaten it, I scold it,
It looks at me apologetically,
As if saying,
"I have put in my best!"
I pull it, I drag it, I even want to kick it,
The snail is injured; it is sweating, panting, and moving forward.
How ridiculous, why does God ask me to drag a snail for a stroll?
The sky is silent.
"Humph! Perhaps God went snail-hunting!"
All right! Time to let go!
Since God does not care anymore, why do I care?
Leaving the snail to crawl in the front,
I follow, sulking.
Hmm? I smell flowers; so there is a garden here.
I feel the air flowing; so this is how gentle the night breeze is.
I hear birds chirping, I hear bugs singing,
I see radiant stars fill up the night sky.
Hmm? How come I have never before had these realizations?
Then it dawned on me: I might have gotten it wrong!
So God asked the snail to drag me out for a stroll.
- "Dragging a Snail for a Stroll" (牽一隻蝸牛去散步), by Chang Wen-lian (張文亮)
Internet search results for this poem reveal readers and bloggers who have drawn strength from it all across the Chinese-speaking community.
Chang Wen-lian's book, "Dragging a Snail for a Stroll," published in 2001, is not only typical of his writing, but is also a precise reflection of his character. Written in easy-to-follow prose, the book talks about the simple science in nature too frequently dismissed by the modern education system.
Candid and genuine, Chang bears an intelligent resemblance to Forrest Gump. Please don't get this wrong; Gump is most highly revered — a man of great diligence and honesty? Unlike Gump, however, Chang yields aspiration instead of pity of any sort. Not only does he possess a nature of assiduity, but he also is equipped with the intellect and storytelling skills that fascinate thousands.
With a Ph.D. degree in Land, Air, and Water Resources from the University of California, Davis, Chang has remained one of the most popular professors at Taiwan's most prestigious higher education institute, National Taiwan University (NTU), since he began teaching there in 1991.